Eighty five thousand tons of the soy was purchased by the Initiative for Sustainable Soy (IDS), a group of Dutch food, retail and feed companies, in what is described as a “certification milestone” on the path to building a responsible international soy chain.
The aim of the RTRS scheme is to respect the land rights of local communities and prevent the degradation of valuable nature areas whilst directly rewarding soybean producers for their efforts in becoming RTRS certified.
Similar schemes may already exist but RTRS, which was set up in 2006, has set out to become the global standard for responsibly cultivated soy.
The 85,000 figure is a “drop in the ocean” compared to the 200 million or more tons of soybeans produced worldwide last year.
But it is hoped that responsibly produced soy will become mainstream as more producers come on line. And it is already expected that the production capacity of RTRS-certified farmers will reach approximately 500,000 tons by the end of 2011.
Jan Nicolai, program director of the Sustainable Trade Initiative, said: “Now that the first RTRS certified soy is on the market following years of preparation, it’s the industry’s responsibility to buy certified soy and to make RTRS the global standard for responsible soy cultivation.”
However this could come at an additional cost.
Daan de Wit, spokesman for the Dutch Initiative Sustainable Trade, did not specify prices but told FoodNavigator.com: “It may cost more at the start but over time the price may become the same and at the end of the day RTRS soy will become the norm in the market so then price differences will not be an issue anymore.”
De Wit said that other standards have been developed but RTRS is unique in 2 ways: “It is a multi-stakeholder process by industry, NGOs and governments together and it has market acceptance...so it has the potential to upscale into the mainstream standard.”
As a result of growing global prosperity and the subsequent demand for meat, the production of soy - an important source of protein for animal feed - continues to increase. However, large-scale cultivation of soy can have negative consequences, such as environmental damage and the violation of land rights of local populations.
The initial RTRS batch was sourced from the Brazilian producer Grupo André Maggi, whose first soy fields were certified by independent auditors in May 2011.
The Dutch companies that form the IDS include Nevedi, Ahold, FrieslandCampina, Vion, Gebr. Van Beek Group and 2 Sisters Storteboom.
The RTRS has more than 150 members, including soybean growers, traders, food and feed manufacturers. They work together to market certified soybeans that have been responsibly produced, and maximise the amount of soybeans that can be RTRS certified.